Cashelâ€™s 2013 Budget was unanimously adopted at this yearâ€™s annual meeting, with only one increase in water charges for customers.
â€œOur council continues to operate in very straitened circumstances,â€ Town Manager SÃ©an Keating told councillors. â€œThe budget before you for 2013 amounts to â‚¬2,605,081. This is a reduction of some â‚¬430,000 (or more than 14%) from our budget of five years ago in 2008.â€
â€œEven with significant reductions in our expenditure, we continue to deliver our core services and to support local communities and organisations. This is possible through increased efficiencies and the constant focus on achieving value for money in all our spending.â€
Mr Keating said Budget 2013 had been prepared against the background of continuing economic challenges at a national level, with significant reductions being made across the public finances.
â€œWe have been advised that our Local Government Fund will be reduced by a further 5% in 2013. Taking account also of falling income from service charges, it has been very challenging to bring forward a balanced draft budget.â€
â€œThe budget will allow Cashel to maintain the existing levels of service for the people of Cashel without increasing Commercial Rates or other service charges with the exception of water services.â€
The Council began a process in 2010 to phase out the minimum charge for water and waste water by the introduction of a standing charge to apply to all non-domestic water users. At the time, about two thirds of businesses in Cashel were subject to a minimum charge of â‚¬475 per year. For 2013, the standing charge increases to â‚¬150 and the minimum charge is now eliminated.
â€œThis means that all non-domestic water users will pay only the standing charge and the volumetric charge on each cubic metre (1,000 litres) of water consumed, which is obviously good news for small businesses, shops and offices that consume limited amounts of water,â€ said Mr Keating.
The volumetric charge on drinking water remains unchanged at â‚¬1.10 per cubic metre, while the waste water charge increases from â‚¬1.10 to â‚¬1.20 to reflect the increased cost of waste water treatment.
â€œThese adjustments should again benefit the majority of businesses in Cashel Town,â€ added Mr Keating. The 20-minute period of free car parking on the streets of Cashel - introduced at the request of the business community in 2010 - will remain.
Cllr PJ Quinn - a hostelier - said he was disappointed that there had been no reduction in the Commercial Rates, and a â€œ5% increase in Water Rates.â€
â€œThis is what we will have to tell the people on the streets. Thurles have dropped their (commercial) rates by 1.5%,â€ added Cllr Quinlan.
Mr Keating said some of the highlights of 2012 include the extensive improvements to footpaths around town, a Conservation Methodology Statement for the stabilisation of the portion of the City Walls; energy upgrades to 10 town council houses; 44 households were accommodated under social housing support - including 10 from the Councilâ€™s own housing stock; and in collaboration with the Cashel Tidy Towns Committee, overall marks for the town increased from 285 to 290.
â€œThis is close to the upper marks you can achieve in the Tidy towns competition. These and other improvements are due to the concerted effort by the many social, community and business organisations in the town in co-operation with this Council,â€ added Mr Keating.